Ronda Rousey, WWE, and What it Could Mean for WME-IMG

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Ronda Rousey WWE WME
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Former UFC star Ronda Rousey seems to be making a more permanent move to WWE. What does this mean for UFC owners WME-IMG?

Many have speculated about Ronda Rousey’s interest in professional wrestling since the former UFC champion made an appearance at Wrestlemania with The Rock a few years ago. She has interviewed WWE superstar Roman Reigns for Sports Illustrated. Stephanie McMahon has even stated as recently as March that WWE would be a great place for Rousey.

So when it was announced that Shayna Baszler would be in the WWE’s Mae Young Classic, the talk became a little stronger. Even more so when it was confirmed that she was in the arena while the tournament was being recorded. On Monday, WWE released new episodes of the tournament which included this exchange below.

Yes, that’s Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir in a very cringe-worthy face-to-face with WWE main roster talent. This exchange, the reports of Rousey beginning to train, coupled with her friend Baszler doing well with the WWE audience, points to an eventual storyline.

It’s no secret that Ronda’s options began drying up once she was suffered back to back losses. WME (the UFC’s owner) has called in favors with some of their clients in an effort to get Rousey some work. For example, Jaimie Alexander is a WME client and star of NBC’s Blindspot, in which Rousey appeared in an episode last season. WME obviously sees this as a chance for Rousey to raise her profile, get her in front of a different audience, and also give her a chance to work on her acting in front of a live audience. However, both WME and WWE are ignoring a few things.

The finals of the Mae Young Classic are currently set with Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane. Since fans now see what’s going on, there’s speculation that Shayna will go over the fan favorite and more experienced Sane because of her connection to Rousey. That result would put a bad taste in mouths of WWE fans, possibly hurting any reception of a story involving Shayna or Rousey.

Although Rousey has stated her interest in pro wrestling, this is a short term thing at best. For Shayna, it’s a life-long dream and going this route can possibly mess up what she’s built on her own. Also, it’s a known fact that Rousey is incredibly sensitive. MMA Twitter has nothing on Wrestling Twitter when it comes to how vile some of the fans can be.

If the WWE does end up signing Ronda for more than just a one-time thing, are they prepared for the baggage? She either hates you or loves you, there’s not a lot of middle ground. And lastly, it’s hard to understand WME’s end game in all of this. Most managers put a client who needs help in a situation where they can improve. If you want to make her more marketable in studios, acting class seems like a good place to start. Maybe some work with a stunt troop. 87Eleven would probably love to have her.

Out of the moves WME has made in recent months, this one is actually the least confusing; but that doesn’t make it smart. It will be interesting to see how they guide Ronda’s career outside of the Octagon.

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